By Nathan Quinn, Energy Generation & Storage UK & Ireland, email@example.com
Last year, wind energy in Ireland grew by 463MW, taking the countries installed capacity to 4.1GW with the technology accounting for 32.5% of the countries power mix. That energy mix figure second only to Denmark (which has 41%). In fact, 24 new wind farms were connected in 2019, and early signs are that 2020 will be another bumper year for wind energy generation.
Wind energy is also proving to be highly attractive to range of investors, Greencoat Capital are particularly bullish having recently grown its portfolio to include 15 wind farms, making it Ireland’s second largest wind energy operator, last year they generated 1,154GWh from their Irish wind farms. Elsewhere EDF have entered the Irish market having acquired a 50% stake in the Codling Offshore Wind project 13km from Wicklow, the project is expected to have a capacity of 1GW once complete. Back onshore Highfield Energy is teaming up with the Temporis Aurora Fund to finance 200MW of onshore wind assets.
In the longer-term Irish organisations have signed cooperation plans with organisations in Wales and Cornwall to start developing floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea.
Although there is a great deal of positivity for wind energy in Ireland, the sector is not with out challenges. Here are the three key challenges facing wind energy in Ireland:
Wind is currently the dominant renewable energy technology on Ireland, but that success is hiding the fact that quietly, solar energy is also gaining traction in Ireland. The upcoming RESS auction has a dedicated solar category (worth potentially 10% of the total award) and Eirgrid will likely want to encourage technology that can offer a more balanced grid. Whilst it’s a bit early to talk up solar as a genuine rival to wind in Ireland, it may certainly carve out a more distinct niche for itself in the near future.